Dicing with Death

Written in the morning after the Paris killings, thinking of the victims, their families and all the victims of mass human cruelty

Is one of the most unpopular directors
Of Life PLC,
But her essential contribution
To the survival of the company
Has been widely recognised,
With reluctance, I must say,
By every single member
Of its AGM.

Death has a difficult job,
And it’s getting tougher for her.
She cannot hide her concerns
In the last hundreds of centuries
With one particular subsidiary
Of Life PLC.
The increasingly blind strategy
And the appalling work ethics
Of some of the top directors
Of this smaller corporation
Are tainting its success.
What started as a pilot
And was meant to become
A jewel of the crown
In Life’s rich Portfolio
Has turned into a mess.

At first,
when the subsidiary was set up
They used to call Death,
In the middle of the night,
Over plates of lentils,
Or sex,
Or strategic spots in riversides,
(Well outside Death’s remit,
Usually connected with hunting and agriculture)

This was annoying because,
As you know,
Death is a very busy executive.
She has a very tight
And detailed
Hand-written agenda,
And doesn’t like invitations,
Particularly without consulting Mrs Ness,
Illy Ness,
Her secretary.
But Death always obliges:
When she is called loudly enough,
She comes,
With no delay,
No matter what.

Few centuries later,
Death started to detect
Some parallel activity,
Outside Life’s protocols:

Some subsidiary’s directors,
Had started to question
The role of the very director,
Whom they annoyed before,
By launching a product they called
(Or “heavens”?, -I am not sure)
For which they designed
Whole advertising campaigns
And programmes to train their staff.

That was,
Against the company’s liberal principles,
And was a huge embarrassment
For the immaculate reputation
Of Life PLC.

The directors later set up
Several research units
Under the umbrella term of “Science”.
Death knows,
That lots of the work there,
Could undermine her role.
But she didn’t mind at all,
Even though it meant
Few cancelled trips.

But things

Were taken

To a different


When a rogue unit
Of the science department
Decided to pursue
Radical efficiencies
For the accumulation of surplus
With rational “Production in Mass”,
Which was cleverly branded as “modernity”,
By their daring marketing team.



Was against

The very essence

Of what Life
Was about.

Staff started to ask
For the constant presence of Death,
In highly populated areas,
Like wild forests,
The oceans
The air,
In cities,
In barracks
In battlefields.

Size is a particularly poignant issue for Death.
She cannot stand crowds,
She hates them,
They make her feel inferior and evil.
She still cries when she remembers
Her visit to Hiroshima and Nagashaki
Following the phone call of some bastards,
And she shudders with the thought
Of more organised trips
To Germany and Siberia.

Death is quite exclusive,
she’s got her own driver,
She hates train stations
And dingy tube platforms.
But she is very professional,
That’s why
She doesn’t approve
Of mixing work with leisure,
Or interfering in anyone’s leisure,
When she is sent to for job,
Like in that wedding party
In Afghanistan,
A few years ago,
Or last night in Paris,
In those restaurants
And the concert hall.

She cried there too.

Death is loyal to Life,
She does not have other Gods,
If someone sends a request,
On behalf of a stupid Idol,
Her wrath is heard in the world.

For all the reasons above
The chief executive director
Of Life PLC
Has given a warning
To the executive directors
Of this subsidiary in trouble,

If they don’t clear their mess
And stop relying on Death
As part of their regular business
(Her travel expenses are rocketing),
There shall be soon
A big official meeting
With all Life Directors,
Including you know who.

I have suggested
That only senior staff
Attend this crucial event,
But it is not up me.

Copyright © 2015. Tony Martin-Woods
Todos los derechos reservados. All rights reserved.

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